oil-slick1“What the hell did we do to deserve this?” is the question, baby-faced BP CEO Tony Hayward apparently asked his stunned fellow BP executives as they saw billions wiped off the company’s share price due to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The reason for the shareholder panic is that much more oil is escaping than previously thought and the growing realisation that this could be America’s worst environmental disaster.

There is also a growing realisation that in the first week of this disaster BP deliberately underplayed how much oil was leaking in order to downplay the ecological threat.

But now the cat is out the bag.

It is incredible that it is only a week ago that BP was saying that, in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, that the spill did “not appear to have caused a leak”,

What a difference a week makes. Last night the spill was said to be the size of Jamaica, with devastating news that the oil had reached the shore in Louisiana.

Once again the disaster shows that the only truly effective way to respond to a spill is not to spill in the first place.  BP with all its mobilisation of workers and boom has failed to stop the oil reaching the shore.

BP has laid 100,000 feet of booms – but this is a tiny proportion needed to protect the vast creeks and rivers of the Gulf Coast.

And the booms don’t work. They are being overwhelmed by 5ft waves of oily water in the choppy seas.

BP seems totally overwhelmed by the task at hand and Obama has responded by calling in the military.

You have to ask, where were all the sophisticated spill response plans and action plans put in place waiting to respond to a disaster like this?

Doug Suttles, one of BP’s senior executives, said yesterday “We’ll take help from anyone”.

They were the words of a desperate man.

Just stop and think about it – the US oil industry is meant to have the highest safety, regulatory and spill response standards  in the world– we are not talking Nigeria here.

And yet with every day the news coming out, there are further revelations that are shocking. The latest is that a key safety device was not being used on the rig.  The Wall Street Journal has reported how:

“The oil well spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn’t have a remote-control shut-off switch used in two other major oil-producing nations as last-resort protection against underwater spills.”

The paper continued: “U.S. regulators don’t mandate use of the remote-control device on offshore rigs, and the Deepwater Horizon, hired by oil giant BP PLC, didn’t have one. With the remote control, a crew can attempt to trigger an underwater valve that shuts down the well even if the oil rig itself is damaged or evacuated.”

Two major oil-producing countries, Norway and Brazil require these triggers.

No surprises that the US did consider requiring remote-controlled shut-off mechanisms several years ago, but the oil companies lobbied against the measures.  The companies argued that other safety features were adequate.

Once again we have an industry that has put profit over safety and environmental concerns. BP’s name is now becoming synonymous with reckless environmental damage.

“In the last two years, it seemed BP had really cleaned up their act,” argues Fadel Gheit, a managing director and oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Company. “Now it looks like a house of cards that has totally collapsed.”

The wider fall-out is now beginning. It would be political suicide for Obama to press ahead with offshore drilling right now.  The administration is said to be rethinking its commitment to offshore drilling in light of the accident.

The Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has also ordered an immediate safety review of the 30 offshore drilling rigs and 47 production platforms operating in the deepwater Gulf, and is sending teams to conduct on-site inspections.

But the greatest danger to – and anger from – is the local area: where the creeping oil sheen threatens  endangered marine life and fisheries, including one of only two breeding grounds worldwide for Atlantic bluefin tuna.

More than 400 species are threatened by the oil, including wading birds, sea otters, whales and endangered turtles. The spill could not have come at a worse time as it is spawning season for fish and the migratory season for birds.

Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Governor, has said that at least ten wildlife management areas and refuges in his state and neighbouring Mississippi are in the oil plume’s path.

It is the locals – from the fishermen, to the wildlife guides, to the kids who play on the beaches – who should be asking the question “What the hell did we do to deserve this” and not the top brass of BP.


  • Welcome to the beginning of the end of the world! And we don’t even need God’s help in destroying it.

    Alanna Mitchell, author of Dancing at the Dead Sea, states, “…in the mythical Galapagos Islands…I explored the floor of the ocean itself and began to piece together the critical part the oceans play in this complex mosaic of life on earth….What we are witnessing here, now, on our planet, is a profound change in our surroundings, caused by what humans are doing. So species are changing. In most cases, the way they are doing that is to die out across most of their habitat because things are altering far, far faster than the leisurely pace historical evolution has prepared them for….Extinction is normal. this rate of extinction is not. It has happened just five times before in the planet’s 4.6 billion years.” She cites Richard Leakey (The Sixth Extinction: Patterns of Life and the Future of Humankind), who refers to humans as the “greatest catastrophic agent the world has ever seen, a highly intelligent, highly lethal species set to destroy billions of years of evolutionary advances.” What we don’t realize, Allana explains, is that water is as much, if not more, an essential source of life on this planet. “It is not only the original source of all life on earth, it also shapes the climate, weather, temperature, chemistry of the planet and therefore the home of terrestrial species. Like us. In fact, 95 percent of the earths’s biosphere is in the ocean.” This chemistry is changing rapidly for the worst, so much so that we may not be able to live on this planet for much longer if we continue the way we are going.

    Just when we environmentalists think we have made some headway on addressing global warming, like the Kyoto Accord, something llike this happens! Indeed, what have we, the victims of capitalism and greed, done to deserve this? Maybe we need to look at what we haven’t done. Maybe we can use this environmental disaster as a teaching moment and collectively take action in the form of petitions, rallies, pressure on the United Nations to protect the planet and the people on it. One great opportunity is the G8 and G20 Summit in June, during which time the citizens of Toronto will be holding their own “People’s Summit” (for more information google the people’s summit or recession relief coalition). If we do nothing in the face of evil, it grows. If death is imminent, we have nothing to lose.

  • What the hell you did to deserve this was to put greed above all else!

    The question is, What are you going to do now, to mitigate the devastation to the peple and wildlife and waterways who, indeed, did NOT deserve what you have done to them!

  • Our lack of concern for eliminating other species now threatens ours – us!
    It is ironic that the greedy and the committed capitalists still pretend not to get it. While the majority in their numbed sleepwalking state go on, like the unaware critters they are, gobbling resources and polluting as they are told.
    Told by whom?
    Try tuning OUT – try not turning on your TV, radio, newspaper, media of all kinds. Does just the thought of having to explain to friends, family, and everyone else that “you don’t know what’s going on” make you feel uncomfortable?
    We are BRAINWASHED by “the market.”
    We are losing options, as fast as other species.
    Too bad, because we humans have so much potential. We are just accepting blindly, that we have no other options. Which very soon will be true. We too will have no other options to extinction of ourselves.
    However the planet will go on, attempting to find another species that it can work with.

  • That is where people will understand majors consider US like Nigeria, as it was said earlier. I do not know how long it will take for people to understand that industries of that kind are aggressive and has not a ounce of care, but neither does politics. IOCs/NOCs are placing the limit of safety as dictated by the government and NOT FURTHER. In countries with no safety rules means minimum safety rules (the ones created by the IOC-NOC usually meant to balance btw life-loss and economics, therefore it gives you an idea of the price of your life within that company). It is not Transocean’s fault or BP’s if they did not put that extra safety measure in the US cos the state never required it at all!!! Why spending on non-required-extra-and-possibly-useless safety measure? US is full of politics that are paid by the NOCc/IOCs and they are the ones enforcing the laws, now you blame brits for american laws lack of implementation?? I think the public is just not thinking at the right place. Company’s greed is just as bad as the government’s and its executives. Why is that the same company will flare in a country and not another?? Law and law enforcement only. Everybody was happy to get the oil at a fair price in the US, well it did cost a few african lives but who cares? they’re not from the neighbourhood and will be forgotten after a good chill bud and a BBQ with the mates.
    Understand me at the first place: I do hate a couple of things like threatens to the environment and people (especially locals). But worse of all is the cinism of the people raging because of the oil spill, that cinism is triggering the first 2, because now look what’s next: No domestic expansion in the US, big yohoooo!! for the american citizen, but oil demand continues hence what will happen to all the countries that do not or CANNOT re-enforce their laws?? We had the pleasure to hear a comment on Nigeria by our journalist here, which I find profoundly revolting because IOCs are exploiting the greed of few nigerians to extract their oil at a cheap price at the price of the nigerian people and environment which we all know is a common practice for IOC, whether american or european don’t get me wrong. Shell-TOTAL-BP-Exxon-Chevron are all on the same boat of exploitation and every time there is a trial they cry at court and use some misunderstanding from the jury, manipulation of information (or it’s interpretation) due to culture difference mainly. Believe me culture difference has a much bigger impact than we can think and is a major trigger. We have very experienced IOC consultants that play mediating roles and can choose very well within a community who to speak to, regardless the culture. They all know cultural fact from foreign countries completely unknown from their domestic compatriots which helps in trials, but we are diverting. The nigerian reference is revolting because the only nigerian’s fault here is to be unprepared to the oil philosophy. These people are fishermen, hunters and few farmers but oil is not treated like it is in the US, as a farming asset. Nigerian growth is pirated by IOC’s greed and haste in oil recovery at whatever cost. These costs however will be subtlety traded for IOCs never to be directly engaged. A few environmental and educational programs will be executed to show their involvements” into country’s growth but because of quarterly review must be always a rising slope if the said country’s development goes against that slope there will be consequences. As IOCs have big resources and because they have powerful politic/military levers that allow them to answer with an absurd disproportion to threats. What stop them? law implementations and enforcements, otherwise it would be the same in their own country BELIEVE ME!!
    Unfortunately and sadly saying this will not change a lot. Whether ppl will believe me or not I don’t really care for I witnessed these rude behaviours. Just remember that next time they vote the global consequences of it, major countries now have implications far beyond their own borders and that goes with an extra acquisition of conciousness. What I believe is that Transocean, BP and US government are all responsible for general lack of care and will use the people’s ability to mentally cure from that environmental illness, spills will carry on, at a lower rate but still it will happen. Also foreign extortion to fulfil domestic demand will carry on. Just stay tune and listen, travel, don’t take Fox or CNN (or whichever channel) for granted . Like Gandhi said, local revolution! talking about what matters to you around you and education of your close-by about what you think must change is the only way for things to change.

  • John Brown must be laughing his a** off at BP now. Karma is definitely a b*tch.
    BP has now firmly established their legacy as being the final catalyst in mankind’s collective attempt at destroying himself and the planet as well.
    Thanks BP.

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